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Celebrating the Past, Present & Future

The final winter encampment of the Revolutionary War

By Bud Disney

A year after the American victory over the British at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, General George Washington moved a large part of his army to New Windsor, NY for winter quarters or a “cantonment”. Here some 7000 troops, accompanied by 500 women and children, built log huts for shelter, drilled and kept ready for a possible spring campaign, if peace negotiations were not successful.

At the same time, the Army’s grievances over long-promised pensions, land bounties and back pay threatened to erupt in rebellion. Fortunately, army discipline prevailed. Following the news of a provisional peace treaty, Washington issued cease-fire orders, effective April 19,1783, to bring the eight year war to an end. The army was peacefully furloughed home.

Today, this state historic site preserves 120 acres of the original 1,600 acre cantonment. In season interpreters in period dress demonstrate military and camp life activities. In December 1782, at the suggestion of the Reverend Israel Evans, Chaplin of the New Hampshire regiments, General Washington ordered the troops to construct a large building to serve as a chapel for Sunday services. The resulting Temple of Virtue, as it was known—also called the New Building and Public Building—was 110 feet by 30 feet. It was also used for court-martial hearings, commissary and quartermaster activities and officers’ functions.

On March 15, 1783, Washington countered an officers’ challenge to General Washington and Congress, now known as the Newburgh Addresses, at a dramatic meeting held in the Temple Building.

(The story of Washington’s speech, began as he put on eyeglasses, was that the war had also had taken its toll on him, white hair and partial loss of eyesight...it was told that many of them so taken, wept!)

The war ended in a month and the troops were furloughed home. General Washington again displayed his wondrous leadership and character.

Reference and details: http://www.revolutionaryday.com/usroute9w/Windsor/default.htm

National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

From the Badge of Merit to the Purple Heart, General George Washington chose a select few of his troops to honor for their service. It was a small purple cloth Badge of Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart award. One of the three known Badges of Merit, the only documented surviving example, is on exhibit here.

So it is natural that this significant historic site was selected to be the home of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. In 1932 the new Purple Heart was presented to 150 veterans of World War I on these same historic grounds.

There is no accurate number of Purple Hearts that have been awarded, because there was no consistent record kept since the award was established in 1932, but the estimate is 1.7 million. It was retroactive to those who received “wound chevrons” and certificates of merit” during WW I and those from earlier wars who chose to apply. From 1942 on it was limited to those wounded or killed in combat against the enemy. Records were sometime lost during wartime when headquarters were overrun and many lost during a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973.



Reference and details http://www.thepurpleheart.com/faqs/


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